Have you ever wondered whether a certain food group might be stopping you from looking and feeling your best? You should consider an elimination diet.
Elimination diets are great for reducing inflammation, seeing which foods best suit your body, and identifying intolerances or allergies. But before you embark on this type of diet you might have some questions.
- What is involved in an elimination diet?
- How long should you eliminate foods for?
- How long does it take to see results on an elimination diet?
In this article I will be answering all these questions, so let’s get started.
An elimination diet involves removing entire food groups at the same time to check for allergies or intolerances and reset your health. The motivation for going on an elimination diet tends to be when you’re feeling generally unwell or experiencing unusual symptoms. A food allergy may be to blame or there might be a food group that simply doesn’t sit well with your body, such as sugary or fatty foods.
Unlike a traditional diet, the goal of an elimination diet isn’t necessarily to lose weight. However, weight loss can be a happy side effect if that’s what you’re aiming for.
There’s no hard and fast rule about what you need to eliminate from your diet. But there are certain food groups that people tend to opt for such as gluten and dairy. This can be because the food groups in question are allergens or because they’re the most likely to cause gastric issues.
To embark on an elimination diet, you’ll need to temporarily remove certain foods from your diet and then slowly reintroduce them. If you start to experience the same symptoms again after food reintroduction, you’ll know the food group in question was to blame.
To see results from your elimination diet, you’ll need to eliminate foods for long enough to calm your immune system. Then, you need to start adding the food back in.
The total time to do both of these steps and see results is about 6 weeks. That’s enough time for your body to establish whether it functions better without the foods you removed. However, keep in mind that the amount of time you spend on food elimination and how many foods you eliminate will impact exactly how long the whole process takes.
The amount of time people eliminate foods varies anywhere from 3-8 weeks. In my Mindful Elimination program, where students learn to combine an elimination diet with mindful eating and yoga, the elimination phase lasts 4 weeks.
The food elimination phase allows the body and digestive system to get used to going without the food group in question. Once your immune system has calmed down, you can start the reintroduction process.
The amount of time that food reintroduction takes depends on how many food groups or food items you’ve removed from your diet. This is because you’ll need to add one food group at a time back into your diet.
Think of it this way. If you remove red meat, dairy, gluten, and onions from your diet and then reintroduce them all at once and experience symptoms, you won’t know which food(s) caused the problem.
By reintroducing each food group one at a time, you’ll be able to match the food to the symptom. With this in mine, you should reintroduce each food group every 3 days before moving on to the next one.
In general, the elimination phase of an elimination diet should take no more than six weeks to work. After that the reintroduction period can take a few days to several weeks, depending on how many items you’re reintroducing.
If you’re cutting out many food groups in one, just watch out for nutritional deficiencies. If you remove red meat and beans all at once, for example, you could find your iron count seriously impacted.
Considering that an elimination diet can take at least one month, it’s worth planning the diet around a time in your life that’s convenient. If you’re heading to Mexico for a two-week holiday, for example, it might not be the perfect opportunity to cut out all alcohol and fried foods.
While an elimination diet looks different for different people, there are some typical food groups or food items that tend to appear on elimination diets across the board. These include:
- Dairy products
- Sugary foods
- Foods that are high in fat, such as fast food
- Processed meat
- Citrus fruits
- Nightshade vegetables
Some of these are allergens (soy), some are known to cause digestive discomfort (caffeine), and others are simply downright bad for you (sugary and fatty foods). If you would like specific guidance and a plan on what food groups to eliminate, then my Mindful Elimination program is perfect for you. I will also add that for my program there quite a few items listed above you CAN still eat like eggs, fruits, and potatoes.
To know whether you have an intolerance, allergy, or simply poor health side effects from a food, you’ll need to know what you’re looking out for. Here are some of the symptoms you can expect to experience after the reintroduction of a problematic food.
- Fatigue or feeling constantly tired despite sleeping well
- Headaches or migraines
- Vomiting or unusual bowel movements
- Swelling or rashes on the skin
- Generally feeling unwell (this feeling went away with the elimination diet and returned after reintroduction)
If you experience these symptoms, you might decide to cut that food out of your diet permanently. You could also opt to cut down on the amount you eat, depending on the severity of the symptoms.
Now that you know how long it takes to see results on an elimination diet, you can correctly determine if this diet works for you!
You are now armed with information about how soon you can expect to see results on an elimination diet, and can plan the best and most convenient time for the diet to take place. You also know how long to wait before expecting to see results.
Some people rush into an elimination diet and start reintroduction after a week. They are then confused why they don’t see results. You need to give your body adequate time to experience life without these food groups that have been potentially causing you trouble. Good luck!
Finally before I sign off, you might be interested in this FREE sample 3-day gut health meal plan to help deal with digestive issues. All you have to do is fill in the form below!
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